The Texas Clemency Memos

An interesting article in The Atlantic Online from 2003 on Bush and Gonzales’s love of executing prisoners:

On the morning of May 6, 1997, Governor George W. Bush signed his name to a confidential three-page memorandum from his legal counsel, Alberto R. Gonzales, and placed a bold black check mark next to a single word: DENY. It was the twenty-ninth time a death-row inmate’s plea for clemency had been denied in the twenty-eight months since Bush had been sworn in. In this case Bush’s signature led, shortly after 6:00 P.M. on the very same day, to the execution of Terry Washington, a mentally retarded thirty-three-year-old man with the communication skills of a seven-year-old…

…During Bush’s six years as governor 150 men and two women were executed in Texas—a record unmatched by any other governor in modern American history. Each time a person was sentenced to death, Bush received from his legal counsel a document summarizing the facts of the case, usually on the morning of the day scheduled for the execution, and was then briefed on those facts by his counsel; based on this information Bush allowed the execution to proceed in all cases but one.

18 comments

  1. I like to think of myself as somewhat liberal, but if there’s capital punishment, then I feel it should be enforced. “Retarded” or not, this guy probably should have been executed AND the world is probably a better place without him…IMHO.

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  2. How did Gore not dig this up in 2000, or at the very least, Kerry in 2004?

    It may not have made a huge difference, but I’d like to think that at least a few people have compassion for human life and would have changed their votes.

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  3. For the record, I doubt there’s a person who posts regularly who is more in favor of the death penalty than I am. Some cases you can quibble over, but if you can legitimately prove the guilt of someone who has committed a heinous crime…I have no problem with the death penalty.

    For instance, there was a case recently here where a teenager stole a car, ran from the police, and then hit a 25-year-old graduate student from the University of Pittsburgh, putting her in critical condition. Her life – if she survives – is ruined because of some scumbag punk who thinks he’s allowed to pull stunts like this. If she dies because of his criminality, I would say he deserves the lethal injection.

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  4. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/04/0408_050408_tv_dnadeath.html

    Surely you don’t think our legal system never makes mistakes!

    Now, I’ll tell you why I’m against the death penalty, aside from the fallibility of our legal system. I think it’s wrong to murder. If someone kills my wife, and later I find him, tie him up, and kill him, I’ll be guilty of murder, no matter what the scumbag did. Why can the state perform exactly the same act, but not be a murderer?

    Also, the state killing people is barbaric, and an abuse of power. Just my opinion.

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  5. I don’t know if I’d go so far as saying “willful ignorance” when talking about the death penalty. As DaveS said, the state killing someone for killing someone else is essentially a snake which eats it own tail… no matter the circumstances.

    Trace: I’d say, by any stretch of the definition, you are certainly not liberal-minded. The world is probably a better place b/c some Texan halfwit executed a mentally retarded man? I do not think the word “liberal” means what you think it means.

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  6. Derek, which side of the two polar opposites presented were you referring to as refreshing?

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  7. Don`t mess with Texas !
    EEEEEEEHAAAAAAA !!!
    We`re number one.
    We`re number one.

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  8. …based on this information Bush allowed the execution to proceed in all cases but one…

    The ONE person that Bush did NOT kill was the only person that needed it; Henry Lee Lucas.

    “Lucas’s sentence was commuted to life in prison in 1998 by then-Governor George W. Bush. His was the only death penalty case among the 153 that came across George W. Bush’s desk in his tenure as Texas Governor in which Governor Bush intervened and commuted the death sentence. Lucas died in prison of natural causes.”

    Died in prison, just like Ken Lay.

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  9. It raised my brow to see liberals that either support capital punishment or at least suggest that such sentences should be carried out where legal until repealed.

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  10. Phundit, this information was readily available during both presidential campaigns. I read it in numerous places. Don’t underestimate the number of voters who never read the ‘net or the newspapers. Many just decide by 30 second ads or by someone telling them who to vote for.

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  11. “It raised my brow to see liberals that either support capital punishment or at least suggest that such sentences should be carried out where legal until repealed.”

    Well congrats Derek.. That’s what happens when you take your head out of your ass and realize that all “liberals” aren’t exactly alike. The Sean Hannitys and Bill O’Reillys of the world want you to think they/we all want criminals to go free, that we hate America and want the terrorists to win, etc., but the fact is that you have been lied to if you ever believed that kind of stuff in the first place. Hope you continue to have your eyebrows raised and start seeing in color instead of black and white.

    ~Signed, another “liberal” who supports the death penalty

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  12. You all need to take some classes on what it means for an adult man to have the cognative abilities of a 7 year old !
    I work with mentally disabled people of all ages and abilities. The fact that this man had the reasoning and life skills on par with a child that believes in Santa Claus is a fact you are all overlooking in this case.

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  13. That’s exactly what I was thinking, Michelle… and, to coin a phrase already overused here, raised my eyebrows in this entry. The cruelty of someone saying “‘Retarded’ or not, this guy probably should have been executed AND the world is probably a better place without him..” is just astounding.

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